Kevin Smith expected to start for Lions

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The Lions got a bunch of defensive players back at practice on Friday, which could mean that the team is close to full strength when they face the Raiders in Week 15.

It seems like a sure thing that they will have running back Kevin Smith back in the lineup. He practiced for the third straight day, leaving both the team’s website and the Detroit News to predict that he will be the starting tailback. Given the Raiders’ performance against running backs in recent weeks, that would be a very good thing for the Lions offense.

The fact that Smith practiced all three days makes him much less of a risk than he was when he played against the Saints after hurting his ankle on Thanksgiving. Smith couldn’t get through the game after a week of limited practices, but he’s been much more active this week and should be a better bet to make it through the contest.

On the other side of the ball, the team got safety Louis Delmas, linebacker Justin Durant and cornerback Eric Wright back at practice for the first time all week. All three are listed as questionable, although it sounds like Delmas is a good bit further away from playing than either Durant or Wright. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley is also questionable for the Raiders game, but he did not practice on Friday.